Rie Takahashi, Voice of Ai, Shares Passion in OSHI NO KO Interview

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, "OSHI NO KO" Partners

In our first series of interviews for【OSHI NO KO】, this week’s feature is Rie Takahashi, the voice of Ai Hoshino. Takahashi took the spotlight in the 90-minute special first episode of the TV anime series. We asked her about the show and her thoughts before the first episode’s special theatrical screening in Japan. 


Were you familiar with 【OSHI NO KO】before you were asked to perform as Ai Hoshino?

Rie Takahashi: I was totally familiar with the series. I was first introduced to the series when one of my friends introduced it to me, saying “There’s this manga that I think you would like, Rie!” I’d previously mentioned liking series that talks about the entertainment industry, theatre plays, and similar genres.

When I first saw the girl on the cover shining and started reading it, I immediately thought “This has to be a series about the Idol Industry!”, however was ceaselessly surprised as I continued reading (laughs). From my initial interest wanting to read a showbiz-related series, I have only ended up loving it more and more.

Since this series is about the showbiz industry and portrays performers trying their best at everything they are faced with, it gave me the power to keep trying my best in the voice acting industry. This series kept giving me that strength ever since I started reading.

Therefore, even before I knew about its anime adaptation, I had been working day to day using this series as fuel for my soul. I always looked forward to the newest chapters, and it really gave me strength.

 

For 【OSHI NO KO】, there was an audition to decide which voice actors would get the role. How did you prepare for the audition? Were you initially aiming to be Ai Hoshino?

For the voice actors’ auditions, we often need to do what you call “tape auditions” in the very beginning. And by tapes, I mean we record our voices, and then send the recording to the staff. Only the people who pass that audition get to move onto the second audition round. In this system, the second round is the final audition, where you go into the studio and have the staff listen to you standing in front of a mic.

So, I started by practicing for the tape recording. Really, when I’m doing this at home, it costs nothing to practice so I tried to vocalize all the various characters at home. Then narrowed it down, one by one, dropping any characters I thought, “This isn’t what I imagined this character to be like!” (laughs).

 

Can you choose your own lines during the tape auditions?

We are not able to choose. The staff members pre-select the lines that they feel are most filled with the character’s charm and assign them to us. So, in the case of Ai, for example, the scene in which she’s talking to Gorou-san on the rooftop and says: “Lies are an out-standing kind of love.” was one of the lines they picked out. 

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

Were you aiming to be Ai from the beginning?

Actually, because I work as a voice actress, I have had an admiration for Akane-chan, who is a (live-action) actor. So I kind of wanted to play the role of Akane-chan and tried acting out, but I didn’t make it through the first round on that end (laughs).

I didn’t make the cut for Akane-chan’s audition, but I love every single character in the series. My wish was to be a part of OSHI NO KO. I would be happy simply being one of the characters living in the 【OSHI NO KO】 world. So, I was really thankful that I was able to make it into the second round of Ai-chan’s voice audition. Since I got selected for the second round, I went all-in on Ai-chan. I went after that role with everything I had.

And so, you sent both Ai-chan and Akane-chan for the tape auditions?

Yes, I am a “greedy girl” (laugh). So I took the luxury of applying for two different characters!

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

Ai and Gorou (voiced by Kent Ito) have a unique relationship, which becomes pivotal later after episode 1. What was the working experience like with Kent Ito-san?

Kent Ito-san is in the same talent agency and is my senior. From back when I first debuted, we would often meet together on the job and agency.  We knew each other well enough to chat and ask each other things like “How are you doing lately?”, so it was a relief to already know each other to an extent.

When I first heard about the final cast members, I immediately thought “Itoken-san is playing Gorou!?” and was surprised but also thought it a great fit. We’re close enough to exchange greetings like “I hope to have a fun time working on episode 1 with you” even before the recordings began, so it felt like it was a challenge we were taking on together.

Starting with Ito-san, all the other cast members really were those characters! All their voices were so perfect, even from the eyes of a reader of the original manga!  It was a big motivation to make me want to perfect my own performance of Ai even more. 

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

As a voice actress yourself, what advice would you give to Ai Hoshino as she works hard in the industry?

What? She’s already perfect so… There isn’t anything to say!!

 

Are you saying that as a fan?

Yes!  I believe that everyone beloved Ai-chan from B-Komachi is already perfect. I’m sure she is sure to obtain happiness as Ai Hoshino as well. I don’t have anything to say. Nothing at all.

Though, it might be better for her to learn people’s names a bit more (laughs)! But that’s about it? 

There’s basically nothing for me to say. I just want to tell her that being just the way she is makes Ai shine the most.

 

Recently, you shared a guide on how to shower your fans before they attend your concerts. What do you think Ai Hoshino would do and say if she did the same thing? We saw the Twitter post.

Thank you so much for looking that up! For some reason, the part about showering stood out in news topics (laughs), but I am an otaku myself that goes to voice actors’ live concerts. Since I don’t want to annoy the people next to me, I decided to write those notes down for all people who came to the site may enjoy the show.

Let’s see… If Ai-chan were to do the same thing… I’m sure there are a few other members of B-Komachi,Ai is the dominant central member, therefore, she might not say much about anything?

The other members of B-Komachi or a potentially leader, might be more likely to say: “Look out for those around you and help each other out when necessary.” As the center member, Ai has the role of being the beacon of light at the center of the group. She might only speak up for things necessary to fulfill that role. 

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

I see, especially since Ai is the central member of the group.

Especially so, she shines without saying anything. Of course, I’m sure Ai would be up for some call and response. For example,  if it was a standing concert and people at the front were being shoved into each other, saying something like:  “Hey everyone, let’s take a step back” to improve the situation, would possibly be best said by different group member, who can make calls like that.

And so, the opening theme forOSHI NO KO, when you listen closely to the lyrics for YOASOBI-san’s song “Idol”, there’s  a phrase like “I can’t allow you to be anything but radiant”. So, it was basically like Ai had to keep shining.

 

Could you share some highlights from the scenes you’ve voiced so far fromOSHI NO KO?

For example, the birthday scene after YOASOBI-san’s song plays in Episode 1. That scene was actually recorded prior to Ai’s death, so it would be easier for me to act.

And so, the timeframe in my mind as Ai also ended with the death scene being the very final scene.  Thanks to that in that video message, I was able to act with full of excitement for the future since my mindset was in a world-line where Ai was still alive and well.

So if I need to pick up one scene in gratitude for the adjustments made at the time of recording, I’d say:  “Please make sure to check out what happens after the opening theme”.

©Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari/Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners

Any final comments to both fans in Japan and international fans?

I’m looking forward to the anime as well (laughs). I’m definitely planning on checking out what happens with OSHI NO KOin the future. I am hearing that a lot of merchandising will be coming out as well. 

So I really would like to support 【OSHI NO KO】 as my oshi. I would like everyone to do so as well. Thank you very much! 


Special thanks to Rie Takahashi and KADOKAWA for the opportunity. 【OSHI NO KO】 is now streaming on HiDive and other platforms. Yen Press is publishing the manga in English. The latest video contents are on the official 【OSHI NO KO】 YouTube channel. For additional information on 【OSHI NO KO】, check out the official EN Twitter account @oshinoko_global.

Interview Interpreter: Adele San 

Translator: Rika Takahashi

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